Suresh Raina: 10 impactful knocks from the southpaw’s career in chronological order

Born November 27, 1986, Suresh Raina is one of India’s finest batsmen in the shorter format of the game. A limited-overs specialist, he is a vital cog in India’s One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) teams and has played a number of memorable knocks for the country as well as his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK). On his birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar picks 10 of his most impactful performances from his career so far.

1.  Announces his arrival (81 not out against England, March 2006)

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In only his eight ODI innings, 19-year old Raina secured a five-wicket win for India over England in Faridabad. Chasing 227, India were precariously placed at 5 for 92. Young Raina scored a brilliant unbeaten 89-ball 81 and saw India home in the penultimate over. This was his first ODI fifty and he announced his arrival in style.

2.  Plays the lone warrior (106 against Sri Lanka, January 2010)

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In the final of the Tri-Nation Tournament against Sri Lanka in January 2010, India were 4 for 47 batting first when Raina arrived. They were soon 5 for 60, with last of the established batsmen Virender Sehwag also departing. From here on, Raina played first with Ravindra Jadeja, and then with the tail to take team to a competitive total of 245. Raina scored 106 of those. India lost but Raina won!

3.  A Royal knock for the ‘Kings’ (57 not out against Mumbai Indians, April 2010)

In the final of the IPL 2010, Raina overcame a scratchy start and along with Dhoni, scripted a match-turning fourth-wicket stand of 72. At the later stages, he changed gears and powered CSK to a total of 168, which eventually proved too much for the Mumbai Indians to chase. Raina’s Man-of-the-Match effort of unbeaten 35-ball 57 — including 3 sixes and equal number of boundaries — helped CSK win the IPL title for the first time.

4.  Scales the summit (101 against South Africa, May 2010)

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A week after playing that match-winning knock in the IPL final, Raina became the first Indian to score a hundred in a T20I, when he smacked 101 off 60 balls against South Africa in the group game of the ICC World T20.  His knock that consisted of 9 fours and 5 towering sixes eventually helped India win the match.

5.  Centurion on Test debut (120 against Sri Lanka, July 2010)

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Raina’s tremendous run in the year 2010 continued when he joined the likes of Gundappa Vishwanath, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly and Sehwag by scoring a hundred on Test debut. Raina scored 120 against Sri Lanka and helped India surpass the Lankan Mountain of 642 runs. With this hundred, he also became the first Indian to record a century in all three formats of the game (Rohit Sharma has since joined him).

6.  Delivers when it matters the most (34 not out against Australia, March 2011)

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In the Quarterfinal of the World Cup 2011 against the defending champions Australia, Raina played a crucial knock of 34 not out from 28 balls and took India home along with Yuvraj Singh. Chasing 261 to win, India were 5 for 187 and in all sorts of trouble. Hero of that World Cup Yuvraj was batting well at one end but was running out of partners. That is when Raina joined him and played the special knock, adding match-winning 74 runs and guiding the team to the Semi-final.

7.  Plays the saviour with a coming-of-age knock (36 not out against Pakistan, March 2011)

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A week later, Raina produced one of the most important knocks played in that World Cup. Facing arch-rivals Pakistan in the high-pressure semi-final could be nerve-wrecking for even a seasoned campaigner. But a young Raina, playing with the tail, scored a sensible 36 not out under difficult circumstances and took India to a safe total of 9 for 260. The amount of runs he scored may not particularly look impressive, but their impact on the match could be understood by India’s win margin of 29 runs.

8.  Brutal onslaught (87 against Kings XI Punjab, May 2014)

Raina was at his attacking best against the Kings XI Punjab in the qualifier match in IPL 7, when he played probably his best knock ever. Chasing an improbable 227 to win, Raina hammered 87 off 25 balls, a knock that included 12 fours and 6 sixes. Thanks to his monstrous hitting, CSK got off to a flying start, reaching 100 in just six overs. Raina’s innings met a tragic end when he was run out. This was a major shot in the arm for Kings XI, who took over the game from there and never allowed CSK to make a comeback. This particular knock by Raina earned much acclaim from peers and cricket experts and has since gained a cult status among his fans. 

9.  Plays a ‘healing’ knock (100 against England, August 2014)

India were outplayed by the English side in the Test matches during their 2014 tour to England. Having lost the Test series, India needed to start afresh in the ODIs. Limited-overs specialist Raina arrived and straightaway infused fresh wave of enthusiasm into the side. In the 2nd ODI, he slammed a 75-ball 100 that had 10 fours and 3 maximums. His healing century sealed the win for India, who eventually won the series as well.

10.  Plays crucial hand in the rescue act (110 not out against Zimbabwe in 2015)

In the group match against Zimbabwe during the World Cup 2015, India were in a spot of bother. They had conceded 287 runs — a figure way too high for the side of Zimbabwe’s calibre. And when they came out to chase it, they were reduced to 4 for 92 by the spirited Zimbabweans, who were bowling with a new-found confidence after their superb batting effort. Once again, Raina rose to the occasion and along with Dhoni, took India to a famous win. The Raina-Dhoni combine added match-winning unbeaten 196 runs. Raina finished with 110 not out which included 9 fours and 4 sixes.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)